Uber asked for it, but Lyft got it.
And Opelika got a ride-sharing service that finally allows patrons a much easier task when looking for an app-marketed ride to-and-fro with Auburn.
Opelika will benefit, Auburn will benefit, and perhaps most importantly, riders will benefit.
The local area already has established taxi service, but there is no denying the fast rise in customers tapping the use of drivers in their private vehicles who are easily hired through the use of phone apps.
Uber and Lyft are two of the leading players in the fledgling but thriving new commercial service, and Auburn earlier had rewritten its business regulations to allow them. Both companies applied for licenses.
However, until Opelika recently made similar allowances upon Uber’s request, and Lyft acquired its business license first in the city, riders from Auburn riding into neighboring Opelika couldn’t count on the same ride taking them back.
“Someone from Auburn would get Uber to bring them to Opelika, but then could not contact Uber when they were ready to go back home because Uber didn’t have a business license here,” Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said.
Uber still has not gotten a license in Opelika, but Lyft jumped in and did, becoming the first of the app-giant ride providers to make the two-city connection.
That may seem like a so-so deal to some, but it aids our community in several ways.
Riders who prefer the app-savvy companies instead of contacting traditional taxi services can now do business from one city to another, be it entertaining guests or perhaps themselves as visitors; or simply someone wanting to ensure a safe ride home after a late night out, as in avoiding drinking and driving.
It also means visitors familiar with the nationally known ride-providers can feel comfortable in coming here and getting from one downtown to the other and back.
If you’ve never used Uber or Lyft, it may be harder to understand. But if you do, you realize the value of this door opening to a new type of consumer service.
Visitors and local users alike will appreciate that.